Elections Could be a “Wake-Up Call” for Algerian Politicians

Article Summary
As elections draw near in Algeria, the country’s political parties prepare to contest a field supposedly governed by new, more democratic electoral laws. While the outcome of these elections is far from clear, Shaaban Zarrouk hopes that they will serve as a wake-up call to the powers that be.

The Algerian electoral campaign has unofficially begun. The leaders of political parties are on high alert. More and more closed-door meetings are being held to analyze the ostensibly new political reality in the country and how best to cope with it. Additionally, other politicians have been wooing sport, art, and media celebrities in an attempt to persuade them to run on their lists in an attempt to sway voters.

While the fear of empty ballot boxes and not receiving any votes initially sparked alarm among the political parties, the fear of failure has begun to take a firmer root amongst the political leadership of those known as "major political parties." These parties are concerned, in that they are well aware that the results of previous elections did not reflect in anyway their real political weight or impact with the electorate. Previous elections served only as platforms for the parties to earn points according to their degree of loyalty to the regime authorities.

This time, however, the elections will be held in different conditions at the local, regional, and international levels. Supposedly, they are to be "fair and transparent" to a certain extent. Perhaps this time, everyone will be cut down to size. Going backwards is no longer an option. The forthcoming elections, if they do not bring change, will at least set the stage for it. This has raised concerns and a panic has gripped those for whom a transfer of power is a meaningless concept, for they cling to power in every possible way and through all possible means, whether legal or otherwise.

Now, as the era of unaccountable rule, venal bureaucracies, and nasty elections spoiled by privilege is on the verge of ending, leaders are bending over backwards to form political alliances. In the past, they have never been made accustomed to producing real contenders - only empty silhouettes of men, primarily interested in personal gain. They have, however, acquired skills in deception, something they have made use of even within their own parties to neutralize certain opponents.

Moreover, in years past when political parties gave priority to people "with high qualifications and competencies" to join their ranks, they tended to choose the academics most "qualified" by their chains of obedience [to the party], who did not pose any threat to their authority. As a result, previous parliaments were filled with puppets, ignorant people who could not find their way in the cities they were elected to represent, let alone think about the problems of citizens so as to come up with viable solutions.

Undoubtedly, political parties are gritting their teeth thinking about the upcoming phase, because they have never before practiced the true political game.

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